Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto Diocese has cautioned against the use of hate speech against the Fulani people noting that this could not only puncture the fragile peace the country is presently enjoying but also fan the ember of ethnic violence that could lead to a genocide war.
The Catholic gave the warning while speaking recently at a colloquium on Fake News and hate speech, organized by the Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, a unit of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN); Abuja.
According to the Local Ordinary of Sokoto Diocese, the blanket and continued hate speeches against the Fulani herdsmen as being currently done on the social media, constitute a threat to the unity and peace of the country; stressing that hate speeches are known to have preceded any genocide experienced in any part of the world. Urging that Nigerians “have to be very careful” before the situation degenerates beyond control. Going down memory lane, the bishop reminded Nigerians: “yesterday it was the Igbos”; and “today, it is the Fulanis”. Bishop Kukah also spoke on the country’s new Passport booklet and the controversy associated with the use of the picture of a herdsman on one of the pages, on the social media. He described the insinuations contained in the social media in this perspective as fake news.
Displaying his own passport booklet to debunk the false interpretation been bandied on the social media, Bishop Kukah declared: “When I look at my passport, it has the coat of arm and map of Nigeria. Then right in front of the data page where all my information is, I have the Bini. I am not a Bini man, but I am eminently proud of this. I didn’t even know it was here, because I had to go through the passport page by page.
He added: “When I opened the passport the first thing I saw was Zuma Rock, then I see Tiv dancers. Who gave them permission to put Tiv dancers? Then I got to next page, before I came to this poor Fulani man who is standing with his cows”.
Warning that the country is on a very dangerous precipice, Bishop Kukah called on the leaders of the country, including those of stakeholder groups to help bring the situation under control; and called on all Nigerians to be their brothers keepers and avoid ethno-religious profiling in dealing with each other. He also challenged the media to wake up to their responsibility.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor of National Open University of Nigeria, Professor Abdalla Adamu, noted that the liberalization of the media space by technology has facilitated the easy spread of fake news and hate speech. He lamented the increase in hate speech in the country warning that it is not in the overall interest of the Nigerian society.
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